Edwina Currie shared her views on Brexit, politics, and business during a wide-ranging and entertaining talk at HURST’s latest Executive Insight event.
The former politician also revealed who she is backing to become the next Conservative Party leader.
More than 50 business leaders from across the region attended the lunch event at the Old Trafford home of Lancashire County Cricket Club.
Edwina said that, despite the current uncertainty, Brexit would create new opportunities for Britain.
“I’m quite sure that five years from now we will wonder what the fuss was all about,” she said.
However, the former politician, who was an MP between 1983 and 1997 and served as a junior health minister under Margaret Thatcher, did have some words of caution for company bosses.
She urged those which trade with the EU to have contingency plans in place if there is a no-deal Brexit and Britain leaves as planned in 2019.
Edwina also urged business people to become more involved in politics to ensure their cause is heard, through business organisations or at local council level.
“If the voice of business is silent, then business will be ignored,” she said.
“Standing back leaves a lot of space for idiots.”
She said she doubts there will be a general election before 2022, as the Conservatives have a tendency to pull together.
Asked who she would back if she was given £100 to bet on the next Tory leader, she said her money would go on Home Secretary Sajid Javid.
While reflecting on current events and Britain’s post-Brexit future, she said her career had taught her three key lessons which businesspeople would do well to follow.
- Never miss a trick – whatever happens, there is an opportunity
- Don’t diss the boss
- Never trust the opposition
She illustrated her points with colourful and amusing anecdotes from her life on the campaign trail and as a junior minister under Mrs. Thatcher, saying: “To work for her was an astonishing experience. She loved an argument and didn’t like it if you had nothing to say”.
Edwina said ministerial life was extremely hard work but she gave herself space by setting aside one day a month as a ‘thinking day’.
She said currently there seems to be an acceptance of Labour’s agenda on some issues, and urged the Tories to improve productivity and raise wages to regain the initiative.
Click here to find out more about our Executive Insight programme or contact Lucy McCormick for more details on 0161 429 2529